West Virginia-born songwriter Christian Lopez caught the attention of major Nashville talent-spotters while still in his late teens and released albums that gained widespread listenership despite diverging from the contemporary country mainstream.
A native of Martinsburg, Lopez started taking piano lessons at five but was first strongly drawn to music when he was nine, during a family trip to a dude ranch in South Dakota that featured a Western-style band. He took up the guitar, fronting an AC/DC-inspired outfit in high school, but switched to country when his father bought him compilation albums by Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and Johnny Cash. "It was then that I realized that meaning and message could matter in music," he has said. Fronting the Christian Lopez Band, which took cues from the Avett Brothers and from the bluegrass music of his home state, Lopez traveled to Nashville and caught the attention of producer Dave Cobb, who steered Lopez in the direction of modern country songwriting without losing the distinctive mix of influences that had shaped the young performer. Lopez was signed to the Blaster label and released his debut album, the Cobb-helmed Onward, in 2015 at age 19. That landed Lopez on the 2016 season lineup of Mountain Stage, the West Virginia Public Radio program with a national reach, and on the radar of the large All Eyes Media agency. A track from Onward, "Will I See You Again," notched more than 1,000,000 digital plays largely without benefit of radio airplay or major publicity. For his second Blaster album, Red Arrow, Lopez worked with producer Marshall Altman. One track, "Still on Its Feet," featured Vince Gill on guitar, and top session fiddler Stuart Duncan also appeared on the recording. Red Arrow appeared in the fall of 2017 in both CD and LP formats as well as online release. Lopez's tour dates for early 2018 included venues in the college towns of Tuscaloosa and Auburn, Alabama. ~ James Manheim, Rovi